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LinkedIn is the quintessential social network for B2B marketing. If you do any kind of business-to-business business, then you should be on LinkedIn. Your profile is the essential marketing element for connecting with others. Here are 5 of the most important parts of your LinkedIn profile and how you should optimize them.

  1. Your headline – Your headline is very important. You need to tell the world the most important part of your background in 120 characters. Don’t just list your title and company. “CEO of XYZ Corporation” is not as catchy as “Ideator and Business Leader at a Fortune 500 industrial manufacturer.”
  2. Your photo – Is your photo up to date? If not, then you should get a more recent photo. Don’t be afraid to spend a few dollars to have one taken of you. It will make a difference.
  3. Your summary – You have 2,000 words to present your best background experience to page viewers. Make it relevant. Include strong action words that depict your most impressive credentials. You can even include links to your portfolio.
  4. Experience – Make sure your most recent job experiences are listed. Keep this part of your LinkedIn profile up to date. You never know who is watching.
  5. Media – You can upload important videos, podcasts, PDF files, presentations, and whatever else is important to your portfolio. These round out your LinkedIn profile and make it easier for potential business partners to see what value you can be to them.

Keep your LinkedIn profile up to date if you want to impress potential business partners.

LinkedIn has become the de facto B2B social network. If you do business with other businesses, or you want to, particularly if you offer a service for businesses, then you should be on LinkedIn. But simply being on LinkedIn won’t guarantee your success.

Rather, you’ve got to work LinkedIn just as you work any other social network. Here are my top three suggestions for working LinkedIn to increase your B2B leads.

  1. Optimize your profile – Your profile should be optimized for achieving high ranking search results for the keywords you want to target. Take a look at the industry you are in and the types of businesses you want to target. What keywords would people search for to find your profile if they wanted to do business with you. Optimize your profile for those keywords.
  2. Create a LinkedIn business page – If you don’t have a business page on LinkedIn, then you should build one – ASAP. If you are targeting other businesses, create a business page and target it specifically for the types of people, or businesses, you want to do business with.
  3. Update your status often – Don’t just sign up for LinkedIn and forget about it. Social media only works if you work it. Update your status once or twice a day with meaningful high value content.

LinkedIn is a great way to find new business leads, but only if you do all the right things. Optimize your profile, build a business page, and update your status often.

No doubt, you’ve heard of Google Authorship. You may have even implemented it. But have you heard of Bing Snapshots?

This is Bing’s answer to Google Authorship.

If you have a Klout account and a LinkedIn account, then you can implement Bing Snapshots. All you have to do is verify your Klout profile and tie it to your LinkedIn account so that when you share information on LinkedIn Klout can measure your influence. Then you can claim your Bing Snapshot at Klout.

Bing has implemented social signals and other “me too” type products after Google before. They haven’t really gained any ground on the search leader after doing so.

Of course, I don’t think many people ever thought they would.

I think it may be a good idea to claim a Bing Snapshot. After all, people do still use the search engine. And it never hurts to make yourself easier to find on any online media page where people are likely to search for you. After all, LinkedIn isn’t the most popular social network, but you likely have a profile there anyway.

It’s relatively easy to claim a Snapshot. And it doesn’t look like it’s a huge commitment to keep it maintained. So it should be painless, if you want one.

Constant Contact has an innovative Facebook technique. They’re offering a free download of 100 social media mistakes to avoid, but to get the download, you need to like their Facebook page. That’s a good idea.

As a preview, I’d just like to mention what some of those mistakes are. The report focuses on four social media sites:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Pinterest

For Facebook, Constant Contact says you should talk with your customers not at them, respond to comments and questions, and monitor your page on a regular basis. There are a total of 25 mistakes to avoid regarding Facebook.

Among the 25 mistakes listed for Twitter, CC says to make sure you leave enough space in your tweets for retweets, shorten your URLs, and don’t abuse the hashtags.

LinkedIn advice offered by Constant Contact include completing your profile, including a photo on your profile, and consider the SEO benefits.

Finally, among the 25 tips offered for Pinterest, CC says you should link to Facebook and Twitter, keep your personal and your business pin boards separate, and pay attention to your analytics.

Reciprocal Consulting agrees with all of these tips. Social media is an always changing landscape. What works today may not work tomorrow. That’s why it is important to keep up with the latest developments in social media and to employ those strategies that work well.

Reputation management is an ongoing activity. It shouldn’t be something you do only when you want to lower the search engine rankings of negative reviews. You should be constantly striving to improve and enhance your reputation online. LinkedIn is one tool to help you do that.

These five specific LinkedIn tactics are great ways to keep your online reputation at the front of your mind:

  1. Vanity URL – Get yourself a vanity URL. It conveys instant authority and looks professional. Ideally, you want your LinkedIn profile to be associated with your name – both on LinkedIn and in the search engines. Your vanity URL will do that.
  2. Recommendations - Recommendations are comments left on your LinkedIn profile by people who have worked with you and go a long way to showing you in a good light. Potential customers will read your recommendations to get a feel for how successful you are at delivering your services. You can request recommendations.
  3. Endorsements – Endorsements can only be made on skills you have listed on your profile. They add another level of credibility to your profile and can be made by your 1st level connections.
  4. LinkedIn Groups – LinkedIn Groups allow you to interact with other LinkedIn users with similar interests. By participating in discussions, answering questions, and being helpful, you demonstrate your expertise, which could lead to additional business.
  5. Updates – When you log in to LinkedIn, there is a box that is labeled “Share an update….” This box allows you to share links and insights into topics related to your area of expertise. You can choose the level of visibility of your updates, sharing them with the public, the public plus your Twitter account, and only your connections. At any level, however, you are displaying your knowledge and experience, which are a direct reflection of your reputation.

If you become a nuisance on your status updates or groups, then that will affect your LinkedIn reputation. Only post a couple of times a day. I’d say no more than five on any given day. The less can often be more.

Jill Konrath and Ardath Albee released an e-book based on a survey of LinkedIn users and their conclusion is that top LinkedIn sellers view the social network as essential to their marketing efforts. “Cracking the LinkedIn Sales Code” shares some insightful statistics about how these top sellers use LinkedIn to nurture prospects and build their businesses.

Konrath and Ardath share five key findings in their report:

  1. LinkedIn “contributes” to opportunity creation.
  2. The most frequent LinkedIn activity is prospect research.
  3. Top sellers use more of LinkedIn’s capabilities than other users.
  4. Top sellers also pay close attention to their professional “presence” on LinkedIn.
  5. The biggest obstacle to using LinkedIn effectively is knowledge of its capabilities.

It is clear after reading the report that top sellers on LinkedIn have a completely different mindset than average users. They frequently close more sales than the average user and find more qualified prospects too. In other words, they actually have a LinkedIn strategy.

Konrath and Albee are careful to note, however, that merely using LinkedIn the same way that top sellers do won’t guarantee sales success. Putting in the time doesn’t translate into sales (BTW, top sellers spend 6 hours or more a week on LinkedIn).

When you consider that in a typical 5 day work week a power user will spend 1-1/4 hours per day on LinkedIn and contribute to 30 or more LinkedIn groups, then it’s clear that top sellers are people who are active on LinkedIn. It makes me wonder if they are active on other social networks too.

What do you think? Are you using LinkedIn like a top seller/power user?

Social networking site LinkedIn started out as a place for hungry job seekers to find employment. Then it blossomed into so much more. They added forums, communities, a question & answer board, and a load of features for business people. And they started growing by leaps and bounds.

Not long ago they added a new feature that has grown quite rapidly – business pages. Recently, they hit the 3 million mark with business pages created. 500,000 of those were within the last 12 months.

From the way the service is growing, it wouldn’t be surprising to see another million business pages added in the next 18 months. Yours should be one of them – if it isn’t already.

Because so many business professionals are using LinkedIn, if you run a business to business operation, then you should be there too. One of the reasons so many business owners and executives are using LinkedIn is because it doesn’t have all the circus-like distractions that Facebook has, which more a destination for business to consumer operations.

Social networking is here to stay. You have to go where your audience is. You can’t be on every network. You have time to manage. Pick your venues wisely. LinkedIn is for businesses.

According to Constant Contact, LinkedIn is getting more graphic. This is a good deal for LinkedIn users, and if you’ve stayed away from LinkedIn because it was boring and didn’t seem to offer the same bells and whistles that other social media sites were offering, now you can jump on the LinkedIn bandwagon.

What makes this exciting is you’ll be able to upload videos, images, photos, and other graphics to each section of your LinkedIn profile. That will make your profile a graphic depiction of your resume and life right off the bat.

Savvy Internet marketing experts know that visuals keep people returning to your website and are more likely to convert once they are there. It’s been that way for years. So this new development at LinkedIn plays right into the knowledge and information that professional online marketers have been operating on for a decade, at least.

LinkedIn has been used primarily as an online resume service. Now, your resume just got a lot more graphic. But I also think the added visuals will turn LinkedIn into more than just a place to post your resume.

What do you think? Is this good for LinkedIn? Is it good for LinkedIn users?

A new study by the Center for Marketing Research at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth shows that Inc 500 companies used LinkedIn and blogging tools more in 2012 and Facebook and YouTube less. The companies also turned to Foursquare and Pinterest more often.

This is an interesting trend because the year before the companies were excited about Facebook.

Keep in mind that LinkedIn has become the business networking tool. Facebook is a great place to go if you are a B2C company or local, but if you cater to B2B businesses, then LinkedIn will be better for you, and more effective.

Of course, Inc 500 companies are not small businesses. But I think small business owners can learn from the big guys what is effective in online marketing.

Let’s start with blogging.

For a while, businesses turned away from blogging. They didn’t see the value. At that time, interest in social media was beginning to grow, so there was a natural exuberance that resulted from this new phenomenon. I think businesses have learned that social media isn’t quite the magical panacea they thought it was. In truth, social media can be effective, but it’s best used in conjunction with a well-maintained corporate blog.

The Truth About Social Media

So is social media worth it? It depends on what social media you are pursuing. Our rule of thumb is to choose the social media that is going to put you closer and more in touch with your targeted audience.

For some companies, that might be YouTube. For others, it could be Pinterest and LinkedIn.

If you go where your audience is rather than where all the other businesses are, then you’ll be much more effective in your online marketing.

Social media is changing – again. Of course, online marketing changes daily, but big changes occur in the online landscape about every 3-5 years. I won’t bother going into the history, but trust me when I say we’ve seen big changes happen every 3-5 years for the past 20 years. In some years we’ve seen multiple big changes shake things up.

In the last year a new social media site sprung up that caught a lot of people’s attention. It’s called Pinterest.

The concept is simple. Users “pin” images and have the opportunity to write a little commentary about the images they pin on their pinboards. Their pins link to the original content on another website. As it turns out, Pinterest users are more likely to make buying decisions than Facebook users. Who would have guessed (note the sarcasm)?

On another note, LinkedIn is perhaps the best business-to-business social networking tool online. A survey shows that 30% of B2Bs see LinkedIn as a top marketing priority. Another 20% consider their company blog to be essential. Again, any surprises there?

So what’s the takeaway?

If you have not put your business into the social media arena, now is the time. Scope out which social networks offer you the best opportunity for a positive return on investment. If your site is highly visual, Pinterest may very well hold the keys to your success. If you are a B2B, LinkedIn has a lot to offer.

Social media is not a panacea for every business ill, but it is a good way to meet new prospects and develop relationships for your future business.

What is the most popular social media website for business-to-business marketing? If you guessed Twitter, then you’d be right. But which social media site actually delivers more leads? According to Mediabistro, that would be LinkedIn.

Big surprise?

The sad part is most small businesses aren’t using any kind of social media measurement tool, so how would they know where the majority of their leads are coming from? Twitter might be more popular, and easier to use. But it isn’t more lucrative. The ROI is actually coming from the social media site that specializes in B2B networking.

But LinkedIn doesn’t just beat Twitter for lead generation. It beats ALL social media websites. Even blogging.

While most small businesses are using social media and have a strategy for it, most of them also don’t use any kind of social media metrics. That brings to mind an age-old question: If you aren’t measuring it, how can you change it?

Businesses who do business with other businesses need to figure out how to measure their social media marketing campaigns. And it helps if you use the social networks that your target audience is using. If you are targeting consumers, that might be Facebook or Twitter. If you are targeting other businesses, it is more than likely LinkedIn.

One thing is for sure – we live in a social media age. But don’t just do it because your competition is doing it. Doing it because it is right for your business.

Social media sites have risen from nowhere to be the most popular sites online. Facebook is currently the most trafficked website online. It used to be Yahoo! Then Google.

YouTube is the second biggest search engine online. But it’s more of a social media website due to its viral video nature.

Twitter and Google+ are both in the top ten most trafficked sites online as well. And LinkedIn isn’t too far behind.

But the race isn’t over yet. All of the social media sites are working hard every day to improve themselves. The latest, Google+, is constantly improving and growing fast. It could become the second most trafficked website online in a matter of months. And Google is already suggesting that it will be the face of Google in the future. How that will affect its traffic numbers is anybody’s guess.

Who will ultimately win this war between social media websites is indeterminable. What is important for business owners is that you have menu options. You are not stuck using one social media site for your marketing and branding.

In fact, if you aren’t using multiple sites to establish a social media presence, then you aren’t getting the full benefit of social media marketing. The best approach to social media is to analyze the sites for their strengths and determine which ones make most sense for your business, niche, and situation.

It’s been just a couple of weeks since Google+ went public. Before then, you had to wait for a user to send you an invitation and then you entered a waiting list. Well, now the waiting list is gone and so are the invitations. But what kind of world has it left us?

In its first two weeks of being public, Google+ saw 2 million new users. Its servers slowed down and some users experienced a few minor glitches while using the service. That’s a good thing.

No outages. Nothing stratospheric in terms of hiccups. But it was noticeable.

Google+ still continues to grow at a steady and highly noticeable pace. Many users are anxiously waiting for business accounts to be introduced. That will add another level of competition between Facebook and Google+, a competitive landscape that is already pretty tough. But what about LinkedIn and Twitter?

At last count, Google was somewhere in the neighborhood of No. 5 or 7 in traffic for social media websites – right behind Twitter and LinkedIn. It won’t take much growth to pass them both.

I think we may be leaving the world where social marketers proclaimed Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter were the most important social services for businesses. In the future, you will likely hear that Facebook, Twitter and Google+ are the most useful services. Do you agree?

WebProNews reports that Google+ is beating LinkedIn for referral traffic on several websites. But it’s still trailing Twitter and Facebook.

That’s pretty astounding when you consider that Google+ has only been rolled out for a month or so and then as a limited beta test. Not everyone is using it yet.

When it finally goes public, what will the statistics be then?

One important point to consider was made by a commenter on the WebProNews article:

If the second trendline is significantly higher than the first then you have internal synergy and true growth in social media exposure. If the second trendline is equal to or lower than the first, then all you have is Google Plus siphoning off referral numbers from other sources.

That’s an important point and I think even the folks who conducted the initial study on this probably didn’t gather enough data to make a conclusion regarding that point. If Google+ only takes away referral numbers from other social networks, that’s not enough to say it’s a worth the effort. But if your Google+ traffic increases while your other social network traffic remains the same, then it could very well be a force to reckon with.

Then, of course, there’s the increase in spam that going public will likely draw. That will be a force as well. Bottom line: The jury’s still out on Google+.

A new report based on a survey of social network users says that LinkedIn is the most important social network for 59% of the people who use them. That’s LinkedIn, not Facebook or Twitter. That might seem unusual considering that Facebook and Twitter get most of the hype.

But, frankly, I think it makes a lot of sense.

Facebook is still a place for personal networking for a lot of people. It’s where they go to connect with friends and family. Yes, they also can set up a page for their business and network with people to attract new business. But being that Facebook is a personal space for a lot of people, and it is the most trafficked social network in cyberspace, the threshold for a high ROI is rather low. In other words, there are challenges in turning a Facebook networking plan into a profit. But it’s not impossible.

Twitter has become much more of a micropublishing platform. And it hasn’t quite caught on with the mainstream just yet.

LinkedIn, on the other hand, is a business social networking tool. People who use it use it for business. Period. So it makes sense that it would deliver the highest ROI. What do you think?

In social media terms, your signal-to-noise ratio is the amount of valuable content that you provide versus how much idle chatter you engage in. Is your noise level too high? If so, then you can increase your social reputation by lowering the noise and improving your signal-to-noise ratio.

The question for anyone interested in improving their signal-to-noise ratio is, How? How do you go about this?

It might seem like a no-brainer, but there are two ways to improve your signal-to-noise ratio. You can increase the amount of social media content you produce focusing on value; or you can focus your efforts instead on reducing the noise. But to do either, you must first be able to measure your signal to noise. How do you do that?

Panorama has a list of 100 social media monitoring tools, but most of them have to do with measuring what other people are saying about you. What you need is some measure of what you are saying through social media and how much of it is valuable. This will tell you whether your signal-to-noise ratio is high or low.

Klout is one social media monitoring service that measures your influence across Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, the three largest social networks. But it does have its limitations. The first limitation is that your influence is measured on the basis of your interaction with your friends on those networks, but if your friends aren’t using Klout, then it won’t be accurate. You can invite your friends to join the service, which is free, and I recommend that you do.

But to truly measure your signal-to-noise ratio, look at how much influence you have on the social networks and compare it to the number of your followers who interact with you. Do you have 1,000 Twitter followers with only 15 of them who retweet your messages or respond to them? If so, it could be because the bulk of your followers don’t see value in your messages. What can you do to change that?

However you measure your signal-to-noise ratio, the important thing is that you increase your signal and decrease the noise. Are you doing that? How?

Spying on your competition isn’t as hard as you can imagine. There are open places on the web where your competition hangs out and where they publicly disclose what they are doing with their products and marketing initiatives. Here are 5 easy places to spy on your competition.

  • LinkedIn – There are so many companies actively using LinkedIn these days that it’s worth a look just to see if your competition is there. If so, follow them. Read their questions and their answers and see who their friends are. You’ll be able to tell a lot just by that alone.
  • Facebook – It’s hard to find a company without a Facebook presence these days. Find your competition, follow their fan page and see what they are putting out on their updates page.
  • Twitter – Twitter is one of the easiest places to spy on the competition. Find them and follow them. Everything they say will be visible to you. Also, subscribe to alerts that let you know when your competition is mentioned on Twitter.
  • Quora – Quora is a fairly new website that is growing in popularity. All kinds of people go there to ask and to answer questions of one sort or another. If your competition is on Quora then you can follow them and see what they are asking, and what they are saying in their answers. What’s more, you can do much of it anonymously.
  • Company Blog – Finally, subscribe to the RSS feed of your competition’s company blog. You’ll know as much as you need to know.

Spying on the competition isn’t hard. You can do it online in just a few minutes a day and at relatively low cost.

Social media marketing has come of age and today it is nearly impossible to market yourself online without doing some social media marketing. The following 5 social media strategies are specific strategies that you would be foolhardy to ignore.

  • Facebook – We might as well start with the largest social media site on the Web. Facebook is a tough animal because spamming is strongly discouraged and Facebook has internal controls to get rid of spammers. However, it can be very effective if done the right way and it is the most trafficked website online so you can’t ignore it.
  • Twitter – Twitter is a great adjunct to Facebook. Some people think it’s an either/or equation. It’s not; it’s both/and. Your audiences on Facebook and Twitter will be different audiences. Chase them both; be effective and you will love the results.
  • Video Marketing – I’m broadening this one to include online video marketing in various forms even though you know we’re talking about YouTube. But don’t limit yourself to YouTube. With Twitter and Facebook you can design special strategies that fit those websites on their own, but with video marketing you can design a strategy that works for YouTube and other online video sharing sites too.
  • LinkedIn – There is hardly a business that can’t benefit from LinkedIn. It’s a special social media site designed for business interactions. Ignore it at your own peril.
  • Blogging – No discussion of social media is complete with a discussion on blogging. If you don’t have your own blog then you need to get one. You especially need one if you plan to use Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, or LinkedIn. Blogging is the beginning of social media marketing.